… reading the Sunday paper from front to back, sipping hot coffee and savoring freshly baked … Cinnamon Bread.
This recipe calls for the use of a bread machine. My wonderful mother gave my husband and me a bread machine for a wedding gift, and what a gift it was! We mixed and added and baked that machine into the ground – and then we bought another! It is a wonderful tool for mixing and kneading doughs; for easily baking sweet and savory breads – and there is nothing that compares to waking up in the morning to the heady fragrance of ready-to-eat, hot and delicious yeast bread.
As always, follow the directions specific to your bread machine. I use a Breadman, so I pour all of the liquids in first, then add the flour, etc. and only add the yeast in the last step. Every machine is different, so adjust the order of the following ingredients as necessary.
Mise en Place – pronounced, mee-zhan-plas is the preparing and setting out of ingredients long before you preheat the oven or spray the cake pan. It is a life saver if you, like me, bake too many cakes and pies and casseroles within any 24 hour period. There is nothing worse than looking at a pile of dry white stuff in a bowl and wondering if you added the salt already – and was it only one teaspoon or the required 1 and 1/2 teaspoons? Trust me – it’s really worth the extra time it takes because at the end of the day, those few minutes of preparation equal hours of stress-free enjoyment. And less-salty cakes!
Sunday Morning Cinnamon Bread
(Please note: Unless you substitute dairy-free ingredients, this recipe is not suitable for a Delay-Bake setting. No need to become ill when an average bread machine baking cycle is about three hours!)
1/4 cup warm water
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp grated orange peel, optional
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 tbsp butter
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 cup sour cream
3 1/2 tbsp sugar
3 1/2 +/- bread flour
2 1/2 tsp yeast
Place ingredients in the bread machine in the order above – or as directed by your bread machine manufacturer. Choose the Dough setting and let the machine do the all of the work! While your bread machine is keeping itself busy, whip up the filling for your soon-to-be-devoured cinnamon bread and then pour yourself a lovely cup of tea or a cool glass of lemonade and relax.
Butter & Spice Filling
In a small bowl, blend the following ingredients then set aside:
1/4 cup sugar (white, dark or light brown – or a combination)
2 tsp ground cinnamon, or to taste
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg, or to taste
1/4 tsp ground ginger, or to taste
1/4 tsp ground cloves, or to taste
3 tbsp butter, melted
When the bread machine completes the cycle, use your hands or a rolling pin to spread the dough out to a 10×28″ rectangle. Be patient – this is always the worst part for me since the dough has a mind of its own. The trouble is, if you don’t get the dough spread out enough, there is not enough filling in the world to turn it into a cinnamon swirled delight – you’ll just have a lot of dough with a mere suggestion of cinnamony-buttery-yum.
Where were we? Ah – yes, so once you have wrangled the dough into something of a rectangular shape, spread the butter mixture onto the surface, leaving a a narrow margin along the edges, and a slightly wider margin along the longest side farthest from you. Using both hands, take your time to carefully roll the dough from the longer side into a tube – similar to a jelly roll. Depending upon the length of the roll, you might have to roll and smooth the dough as you go in an attempt to keep it relatively even.
Now you have some options, depending upon what you’d like to serve:
A Baguette – With the seam side down, you can place the entire rolled up dough-log on a parchment lined cookie sheet. If the roll is too long for the cookie sheet, cut it in half and use a second pan rather than placing the two pieces side by side. Try to taper or close the cut end – the filling doesn’t need any excuse to bubble out while baking.
An Over-sized Donut – Carefully form the dough into a circle right on the parchment-lined cookie sheet, or use a good sized greased and floured tube pan. Either way, you can use a little bit of water on your fingertips to seal the ends together. No need to drench the poor thing – a little H2O goes a long way!
Rolls or Buns, Discs or Slices – Whatever you choose to call them, simply chill the roll o’dough for a few minutes before using a ruler to evenly mark where you’ll need to cut. Use a sharp knife to slice the dough into individual rounds. Place the prettiest side up, allowing the sides of the discs to touch. Try not to squish them into only one pan since that will make them cone upward like stylish hats.
Allow the dough to double in size by placing the pan in a reasonably warm and draft-free area. If you cover the dough, be sure to spray the plastic wrap with oil or smear a little butter on it to prevent sticking. Do not place a towel directly over the dough – oh, what a mess that will be!
When the dough has doubled in bulk, lightly brush the top surface with a little milk or egg diluted with water and place in a preheated 375* oven. Bake approximately 25 minutes, or until golden brown.
In general, properly ‘done’ white-flour breads should sound hollow when tapped and feel a little lighter than the size might suggest. With heavier flours and richer ingredients, i.e. whole wheat flour, molasses, heavy cream, oats, etc., the weight will increase and the final color will be darker.
If desired, dust with sifted confectioners sugar, ice with a simple blend of confectioners sugar and water or milk – or cover with some wonderful …
Creamy Cinnamon Icing
1 8 oz pkg cream cheese, well softened
1 stick butter, also softened
1 tbsp vanilla, almond, orange, or other extract in any combination.
1 tsp ground cinnamon, or to taste
3 cups confectioners sugar
2 tbsp milk – the amount will depend upon the desired consistency. Add just a little milk at a time until you are happy with the results.
In a medium sized bowl, whip the cream cheese by itself, until completely smooth. Add the butter, flavoring(s), and spice(s) to the cream cheese and blend until smooth again.
Slowly add the sifted confectioners sugar to the cream cheese and butter mixture. Make sure you avoid any lumps – even a small lump of dry sugar in a mouthful of creamy icing is disconcerting!
As you add the confectioners sugar, use just enough milk to allow for even blending. It might seem as if all of the milk should be added early in the process, but the confectioners sugar needs a chance to soak into and blend with the oils in the cheese and butter. If you add all of the milk at once, and then the sugar absorbs the fats, you’ll end up with a less dense, and perhaps runny icing. Adding more powdered sugar to a runny icing might help with consistency, but can unbalance the flavor.
Drizzle or frost the still-warm cinnamon bread with the cream cheese topping, and serve. I’ve been known to smush up some ripe bananas with the frosting, or add a touch of caramel to the plate right before serving. With a cold glass of milk or a steaming cup o’Joe – oh my! Grab the Times, pull up a comfy throw and let the morning begin!
When planning a picnic or casual meal with friends, it can be fun to rethink those more familiar desserts. Apple pie is as American as … well, apple pie. But that is not to say that it is the most convenient dessert for eating sans plates and forks.
So, after having made personal cherry pies to celebrate Washington’s birthday, I thought I’d switch fillings for today’s post, and toss in some apples.
Lesson learned – fresh cherries have a beautifully robust flavor that is naturally enhanced with a splash of almond extract. Apples are quieter in flavor, even when combining varieties, and especially when they are out of season and not brought straight home from the orchard. Lacking that flavor presence, the ratio of dough to apple can be disappointing.
So, I have tweaked this recipe to allow for the above mentioned variables, but suggest you wait to make these pies until you’ve stopped by a local orchard on a crisp crimson autumn day, gathered up bushels of fragrant, crisp, glowing apples, and arrived home to a cup of hot tea and a waiting kitchen.
And now for the recipe:
Apple Picnic Pies
2 boxes Pillsbury pie crusts (I will share my two favorite homemade pie crust recipes in another post, but the Pillsbury brand is actually the closest to real pie crust that I have found.)
12-17 fresh, flavorful apples, various (Granny Smith, Rome, Honey Crisp, etc)
1/4 cup butter
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon each nutmeg, cloves, ginger
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon each vanilla and almond extract
1 egg and 1 teaspoon water for egg wash
Wash, peel and core the apples, then cut into chunks. In large pot, combine apples, butter, spices, sugar and extracts. Stir until apples are softened, but not mushy, and spices, etc. are evenly distributed. Add more butter (or cider, water or juice) if necessary, as apples cook.
Remove from heat and set aside.
Preheat oven to 350*
Remove crusts from packaging. Roll out each crust until eight 2 1/2″ to 3″ circles can be cut from each crust, for a total of 24 discs.
Place 12 dough-discs on parchment lined baking pans. Spoon generous 1/3 cup apple mixture into the center of each disc. Bear in mind that this amount will vary depending upon the amount of liquid and the size of the apple chunks.
Cover each mound of apple mixture with the top dough-disc. Press and crimp the edges with the tines of a fork. Using the tines of the fork again, poke holes in the top crust to allow steam to vent from each pie.
Brush the tops of each pie with egg wash.
Bake in a 350* oven for 25+ minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from oven, allow to cool on racks.
If desired, cover with a glaze made from powdered sugar and water.
Makes 12 three-inch Apple Picnic Pies